Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Unveiling Ancient Biblical Secrets by Larry Huch

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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Unveiling Ancient Biblical Secrets

Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling, Whitaker House Press/Publicity for sending me a review copy.***


Bestselling author Larry Huch is pastor of DFW New Beginnings, a growing multi-cultural congregation in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. He and his wife, Tiz, host the daily worldwide TV broadcast, New Beginnings. Pastor Larry’s previous books include Free At Last, in which he shares his dramatic conversion to Christ and deliverance from addiction, anger, and depression; 10 Curses That Block the Blessing, on breaking destructive habits, and The Torah Blessing, an examination of Scripture “through the Jewish eyes Jesus.”

Visit the author's website.


In his latest book, Pastor Larry brings to life ancient blessings such as the hundredfold breakthrough in the parable of the seed, keys to effective prayer revealed in Jacob’s ladder, Purim’s miracle for turning one’s life around, and how the power of God is multiplied through the four cups of Communion. Challenging the commonly-held stereotype that God is angry, Pastor Larry digs into Old Testament texts to reveal a loving and generous Creator. By understanding and tapping into the power these timeless truths hold, modern Christians will discover the destiny God intends for them, a destiny full of power and favor.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742581
ISBN-13: 978-1603742580


You Are Created for Greatness

Whoever runs after greatness, greatness will elude him; whoever flees from greatness, greatness will pursue him.

—Hebrew Proverb

To some, God is great because He makes the wind blow. For others, His greatness has more to do with the fact that He created the entire universe—time and space, matter and energy—out of a void. But God is far beyond any of this. God is so great that He stoops down to listen to the prayers of a small child. He knits together fields and forests but also paints the petals of each flower. What a great God we serve! And you, my friend, are created in His image. (See Genesis 1:26–27.) Therefore, you are created for greatness!

When Tiz and I started our first church, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we were full of passion, zeal, and excitement. We were seeing hundreds of teenagers come out of the gangs, give their lives to the Lord, and be set free from drugs, violence, and crime. In fact, in our three years of ministry in Santa Fe, we saw more than six thousand kids give their lives to the Lord! You may find it hard to believe that, only a few months after we started, something happened to me that nearly defeated me and drove me out of the ministry.

One Sunday morning, as I was preaching, a man walked into the church and stood in the back, staring at me. Then, he shook his head, turned around, and walked out. Over the next few weeks, the same thing happened during each service. Finally, I scheduled a guest speaker for one of our Wednesday night services. After I opened the service and turned it over to the speaker, I went to the back and stood by the door. Sure enough, a few minutes later, that same man walked into the service, stood there for a few minutes, and then walked out. I followed him into the parking lot and said, “Sir, excuse me, is there something I can help you with?”

He spun around and shouted, “You have no right! You have no right! You have no right to preach the gospel!” Then, he began to name things that I had done in my past—things that no one else knew. His words went straight to my heart. I stood there speechless as he stormed away. All the terrible things I had done in my past, before I met the Lord, began to flood my mind. A cloud of condemnation settled over my thoughts and emotions. I thought, He’s correct. I have no right to preach the gospel. I have done such horrible things; I have no right to stand in God’s holy pulpit and preach His Word.

In that moment, God spoke to me, saying, Don’t you ever let anyone bring up the sins of your past! Don’t you ever let anyone condemn you about what I have washed clean! Don’t you ever let anyone drive you out of what I have called you to do!

With those words, God snapped me out of what the enemy was trying to do. From that moment, I have never looked back.

Listen. Satan is always going to bring up your past and throw condemnation on your life. That’s why the Bible calls him “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Those accusations are the most powerful and effective weapons he will use to try to defeat and destroy us. But, they will work only if we allow them to affect us. The Lord set me free from my past more than thirty years ago, and He will do the same for you today. “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

When the enemy accuses you of your past, you just remind him about his future!

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

(Micah 7:19)

When God cleanses us from the sins of our past, He throws them into the deepest part of the sea. Then, He puts up a sign that says, “No Fishing!”

Renewing Your Mind

In order to fully overcome the sins of your past, however, you need to change the way you think. The Bible says, “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Later, I will discuss the power of thought, but for now, let me begin with “the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

Deuteronomy 28 makes it clear that if we serve God and keep His commandments, we will be blessed beyond our wildest dreams.

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. (Deuteronomy 28:2–6)

But if we forsake God and reject His commandments, we open up our lives to all kinds of destruction.

But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. (Deuteronomy 28:15–19)

There is no need to fear this, however, because I have found that God makes it easy to be blessed. It’s not a big mystery. He has laid out an easy-to-follow guide to all His blessings: His law. In fact, contrary to what many of you have probably heard, God’s law is not about rules and regulations and legalism; it is about revealing a pathway to all of His blessings and goodness!

My purpose in revealing these truths to you is not so that we might all become biblical scholars. Rather, I want to unveil these ancient hidden truths so that God can release all of His miraculous power and blessings into your life! I know that each one of us wants to experience a happy, blessed, and prosperous life. What might surprise you is that, even more than you want that, God, our Father, wants it for us!

In Acts 8, we read an account of a discussion between the apostle Philip and an Ethiopian eunuch who was struggling with the book of Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (verse 30). The eunuch replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (verse 31). Later, in Luke, it is written that God “opened [the disciples’] understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45).

Let me say it once more: the purpose of this book is for me to come alongside you, as a friend and a teacher, guiding you and revealing the secrets of the covenant between you and God. I pray that God will open your mind and heart—as He has for me—that you will begin to understand the Scriptures, as well as His amazing love.

When I started serving God, I was told that He didn’t care about our earthly lives as much as He cared about our future lives in heaven. He didn’t care if I had a home or a car. The people who told me such things even went so far as to suggest that, in this life, God would “put you to the test” through various sicknesses, hardships, and calamities.

Then, when Tiz and I were pastoring a church in Australia, something happened that changed my life. I had a vision from God in which I saw a tremendous outpouring of His power and anointing. I saw God flooding His people with favor and blessings. This came as a shock to me because I had an image in my head of Him being an “angry God.”

As I was having this vision, I was overwhelmed by God’s love and goodness. I told Him, “I want to be a part of this. What do I have to do to be used by You to touch people this way?” I thought that God’s response would be that I must suffer before I could see such things. But instead, this is what God said: Tell My people that I’m a good God. What a revelation! God is a good God. He’s not a hard taskmaster. He’s not mad or mean or angry.

Then, God brought Scriptures to my heart:

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

(Luke 12:32)

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2)

The rabbis teach us that God has created us for greatness. He didn’t create us to fail. He didn’t create us to be sick, poor, defeated, and suffering. As a matter of fact, God is so determined for us to walk in greatness that He’s signed a contract with us in the blood of His own Son, Jesus. It’s called a covenant.

Your Covenant with God

In our modern world, the word covenant doesn’t have much meaning. A generation ago, you could do business with a handshake agreement. A person’s word meant something. A person of honor was one who kept his word. Today, it is rare to take someone at his word. The modern business axiom is, “Get it on paper with a signature—in triplicate!”

The principle Tiz and I base our lives on is this: If God says it, He means it, and that settles it!

Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.…It is impossible for God to lie….We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:16–19 niv)

When God gives His word on something, you and I can count on it! It is impossible for Him to lie.

The Covenant Between You and God

Most Christians don’t fully understand the word covenant. In fact, there’s a secret that I want to show you.

Jesus taught about biblical covenants when He said,

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:12–16)

It’s important to realize that Jesus said He was speaking what He had heard from the Father. Here, Jesus gave us five powerful points that characterize a covenant between two people—in this case, you and God. First, this covenant is made because Jesus loves you. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Second, Jesus loves you so much, He was willing to die for you. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Third, He doesn’t look down on you as someone who is unworthy. “No longer do I call you servants,…but I have called you friends.” Fourth, because of this covenant of love, Jesus will hold nothing back from you. “All things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” Fifth, because of this covenant, you will reap a harvest of blessing, joy, peace, prosperity, health, and happiness. “That you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

The Covenant Between David and Jonathan

One of the greatest examples of covenant in the Bible is the one that was made between David and Jonathan. Let’s see how that pattern of covenant mirrors God’s covenant with us. It is a covenant between David, a no-name shepherd boy, and Jonathan, the son of a king.

The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt. So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.

(1 Samuel 18:1–5)

The first, and most important, thing we see is that Jonathan made a covenant with David for one reason: he loved him. “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” Jonathan loved David as he did his own soul.

David was a poor shepherd boy. When the prophet Samuel came to see Jesse, David’s father, to anoint one of his sons to be the next king, Jesse never even considered David as a candidate.

And the Lord said, “…Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you.” So Samuel did what the Lord said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice. So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” So Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”

(1 Samuel 16:2–10)

God did not pick any of the seven sons Jesse had brought before Samuel. Then, Samuel said,

“Are all the young men here?” Then [Jesse] said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” (verse 11)

We may never understand why Jesse didn’t think to bring David in. For some reason, he never considered that God could possibly use somebody like David. I’d like to give Jesse the benefit of the doubt by assuming that David was far away, up in the mountains, tending his father’s sheep. But, sadly, that wasn’t the case. Jesse said, “There he is, keeping the sheep.” David was within sight, and yet his father didn’t consider him to be a possibility. That’s what the devil says to many of you. “God would never use you, bless you, or anoint you. You are not the tallest, fastest, or strongest. Why would God ever choose you?”

You need to understand something: you and I are not qualified in God’s eyes because of who we are but because of who He is!

To be in covenant means being permanently identified with another party, maintaining total loyalty to a relationship that is more sacred than life itself, and counting the cost of how this agreement will affect your life.

Permanently Identified
Look again at 1 Samuel 18:3: “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant.” In Hebrew, this verse is somewhat different. In Hebrew tradition, you don’t sign a covenant; you cut a covenant. When David and Jonathan cut covenant, they each physically cut the palms of their hands with a knife. After the slices had been made, they would have rubbed ash from a fire into the wounds. As the scars healed, their darkened tissue made the men permanently identified with each other. No matter what happened in the future, those scars were evidence that these two men were permanently identified with and bonded to each other.

Similarly, the nail scars in Jesus’ hands are a reminder that He is in permanent covenant with us. As we receive Jesus, we are reminded that we are permanently identified with Him. God told us that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). In John 3:16, Jesus told us of the lengths God would go to be in covenant with us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” If our God and Savior sacrificed so much to make a deep covenant with us, it’s only right that we should keep our part of the covenant. Let us not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wherever we go, let’s tell people that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Let’s share and demonstrate God’s incredible love, wherever we go, to whomever we meet!

2. Total Loyalty

Even at the risk of going against his own father, Jonathan was loyal to David. Likewise, God is completely loyal to us.

The Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

(Hebrews 13:5)

In return, we are to be totally loyal to Jesus. I will serve the Lord with all my heart, with all my might, and with all my soul.

3. More Sacred Than Life Itself

In making a covenant with David, Jonathan was willing to risk his own life to save David’s. Jesus sacrificed everything for us. His life was not taken from Him; He laid it down for us. “By this we know love, because [Jesus] laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

4. Counting the Cost

Jonathan knew that in being loyal to David, it would cost him his kingdom. Jesus, while remaining loyal to the cause, counted the cost, when He prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Being God, Jesus knew what it was going to cost Him to establish a covenant with us. He knew of the beatings and floggings and torture that lay ahead, yet, He said, in effect, “I’m willing to count the cost. Not My will but God’s will be done.” For us to count the cost, we need to be willing to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Why would almighty God enter into covenant with you? For the same reason that Jonathan went into covenant with David: he loved him. Jonathan was rich and powerful; David was a shepherd boy. David had no money or power and knew no important people. David had nothing to offer the son of a king. Why, then, would Jonathan make a covenant with a “nobody”? He loved him. Listen to what Jesus calls you and me.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.…No longer do I call you servants,…but I have called you friends. (John 15:13, 15)

When we have someone we like to be with, we consider them a friend. We spend time with them, going out to dinner, a movie, or a ball game together. But in the time of Jesus, as well as in the time of David and Jonathan, a friend was something more than that. In Hebrew tradition, a friend is someone I am committed to, someone for whom I will do everything in my power to protect. It is a person whom I will make sure is successful in everything they do.

This is what Jesus was saying to you. You are not a “nobody.” You are not out there on your own. Don’t listen to what the devil tells you. Why did Jesus come? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). Jesus came because God loves you. Then Jesus reminds us, “No longer do I call you servants,…but I have called you friends.” Through Jesus, you are no longer just a shepherd boy, herding sheep in the desert. Now, you are a friend and covenant partner with God. Now God is committed to you. He is dedicated to seeing you successful in every area of your life—in your home, marriage, family, finances, and health.

Just as David didn’t have much to offer Jonathan, you and I have even less to offer Jesus, the Son of God. So, why would God make this covenant of success with you and me? For the same reason that Jonathan did: He loves us!

Covenant Success

Let’s take a closer look at the covenant made between David and Jonathan.

Clothed with Authority

One of the first things that happened was that “Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David” (1 Samuel 18:4). Imagine the clothes that David, a shepherd boy, must a have been wearing. They were most likely dirty and smelly from his living outside and working every day with sheep, worn and tattered from use. And since David had just killed Goliath, they would have been soiled with sweat and the blood of the unclean Philistine. In one moment of time, David’s filthy, defiled clothing was exchanged for the robe of royalty. Then, according to verse 5, “wherever Saul sent him,…[David] was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.” When Jonathan put the robe of royalty on David’s shoulders, it wasn’t just for show; it was a sign of authority. David may have been just a shepherd boy, someone who even his own father had overlooked, but the moment Jonathan made covenant with him and put the robe of royalty on him, everything changed. Jonathan was saying to the world, in effect, “Listen to whatever David says. From now on, when he speaks, he speaks for my kingdom!”

This is what Jesus has done for you and me. One of the greatest tricks the devil will use is to cause you not to understand who you are. Like David, you and I came to God in rags but, also like David, those filthy rags have been replaced. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). The apostle Paul wrote, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:17).

Let me ask you a question: Are you a child of God? If your answer is yes, then the rest of what Paul says is true. You are an heir, a joint heir, with Christ Jesus. This is exactly what took place between David and Jonathan. This is what Jesus is saying to you: “You are no longer a servant, but a friend. My power is your power; My authority is your authority.” David received this and all the people of the kingdom recognized David’s new authority. Even the officers in Saul’s kingdom saw the authority David now had. It’s important that you see the authority you have through the covenant with Jesus.

How do you pray? Here is how most people pray: “Lord Jesus, I ask You to get me a job.” “Lord Jesus, I ask You to heal my body.” “Lord Jesus, I ask You to get my child off drugs.” If you pray this way, it is the number one reason you don’t see your prayers answered. If we are asking Jesus for healing or blessing or deliverance, we are asking Him to do something He has already done. When Jesus died on the cross, He said, for all the world to hear, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). He has already done it for you. Now, He wants you to take off your servant rags and replace them with the robe of authority.

You Have the Keys!

Look at what Jesus said to Peter in Matthew:

And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)

Jesus was talking about keys. Keys are a symbol of authority. When someone has the keys, he has the power, or authority, to open doors, start engines, or unlock gates. Whoever has the keys has the power and the authority.

Before time began, only God had the authority. But in the book of Genesis, God created mankind and gave them—us—the keys, or the authority. After Adam and Eve sinned, those keys were passed on to the devil. Mankind, through disobedience to God, lost his authority—and the devil has been pulling mankind’s strings ever since.

Then came Jesus. Jesus obeyed God in the garden of Gethsemane, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). The journey to Calvary had begun. Jesus didn’t merely die for our sins, but He also reconnected us to every promise of God by the shedding of His blood. After Jesus died, and while His physical body was sealed in the tomb, His spirit went to the gates of Hades where He defeated the devil and retrieved the keys of authority. “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:18).

Then, look at Jesus’ statement to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (emphasis added). Just as Jonathan, through a covenant, gave David authority, Jesus has given you and me authority. Because of their covenant, David had the authority of the king behind him. You and I have the authority, not of a king, but of the King of Kings.

You say, “Lord, my children are on drugs. Please remove drugs from their lives.” Jesus says, “Don’t you understand? I gave you the keys. Whatever you bind will be bound. Whatever you rebuke will be rebuked.”

Can you imagine what could happen if all believers understood the authority we have in Jesus’ name? David realized his authority through the covenant with Jonathan, and many others realized it, as well. Now is your time. Whatever you bind, the kingdom of God will back you up. Whatever you loose, God’s kingdom will back you up. It’s time to put on “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). Take off the garment of poverty; put on the King’s robe of prosperity. Take off the garment of failure; put on the robe of success. From now on, when the devil says, “Who do you think you are?” tell him, “I am a friend, a covenant partner, and joint heir with Christ Jesus!”

Armed with Power

The second part of the covenant of success is also found in 1 Samuel 18:4: “And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.” When Jonathan gave David his weapons, he was making a powerful statement. From that day forward, Jonathan’s army was David’s army; Jonathan’s strength was David’s strength. Whatever David said and did, was to be given the same weight as if it was said and done by the king, himself. Jonathan was telling David, “From now on, you’re not on your own.” Even with the authority and backing of the king, however, Jonathan knew that David would still face battles, and that he needed to be armed and ready.

Similarly, even though you have the power and authority of almighty God at your disposal, you will still face spiritual attacks by the evil one. Faith is not the ability to avoid ever having to fight a battle; it is knowing that, no matter what battles you face, you will emerge victorious.

The apostle Paul said that we have powerful, God-given, supernatural weapons at our disposal.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3–4)

David faced Goliath with a slingshot and five smooth stones, but God gave him a supernatural victory over his enemy. When Jonathan put his belt and sword on David, however, God was increasing David’s ability to win even greater victories.

In the chapters to come, I don’t want to take away from the victories you have already won, but to multiply them. God wants to add to your arsenal of supernatural weapons. Was there a secret weapon in use when the woman who suffered from bleeding touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and experienced healing? (See Matthew 9:20–22.) Was there a supernatural weapon in use when God told the children of Israel to take His Word and put it on the doorpost of their homes? (See Deuteronomy 6:9.) The truth you understand will set you free.

Cutting Covenant

Earlier, I explained how David and Johnathan “cut” a covenant together by physically cutting the palms of their hands. In the Old Testament, when two men came into covenant, a shedding of blood was required. This blood covenant would happen in two ways.

First, there had to be a living sacrifice between the two people making covenant. Of course we know Jesus was that living sacrifice between God and man. But there was a second way that blood was shed as a constant reminder to each man of his covenant agreement. As I explained earlier, when two men entered into a covenant with each other, they would take a knife or sword blade and cut the palms of their hands. Doing this resulted in dark scars that stood out from the rest of the skin on the hand.

When Jesus saw Thomas, He showed him the scars in the palms of His hands. (See John 20:25, 27.) In doing so, Jesus was saying, “I will never leave or forsake you.” (See Hebrews 13:5.) When David and Jonathan “cut” covenant, Jonathan was saying, “David, your enemy will be my enemy, my army will be your army, and my kingdom will be your kingdom.”

Just as Jonathan “cut covenant” with David, Jesus also cut covenant with you and me. When those Roman soldiers drove nails into the palms of Jesus’ hands, His blood was shed to form a covenant with us.

Why does God ask us to lift up our hands? I believe that one reason is because it reminds us of that covenant. God is saying, “It may feel like you’re alone, it may look like the enemy has you outnumbered, but you’re not alone. I am with you.”

Likewise, every time you lift up your hands, you are saying, “Devil, do you see my hands? These are covenant hands. I may look like I’m by myself, but I’m not. I have an army of angels behind me. The army of God is fighting for me.”

At the beginning of this chapter, I told you a story about the condemnation I experienced as a new pastor. I felt so unworthy and unqualified. I told you of the man who came to me and said, “Who do you think you are? You have no right to preach the gospel!”

For a moment, I let his words get inside and take hold of my heart. In that moment, feelings of unworthiness and condemnation nearly robbed me of my future, my destiny, and all that God had for me. But, in the next moment, the Lord freed from the guilt of my past and set me on an amazing course for my future! That’s exactly what He wants to do for you today!

The enemy will tell you the same thing that he told me. He will try to condemn you and convince you that you aren’t worthy of the blessings of God. He will ask, “Who do you think you are?”

Don’t let anyone hold your past against you! The blood of Jesus has set you free from the bondage and guilt of your past! “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). When you were born, God created you for a purpose! You were not born to be a loser; you were born to be a winner! You were not born to be average; you were born for greatness! God, your Father, made a covenant of greatness with Abram, soon to be Abraham, the father of our faith. That covenant was not only for Abraham thousands of years ago. Jesus, our Messiah, confirmed that it is for you and me, today. When God makes a covenant and gives His word, we can count on it!

Now listen to this! Isaiah 49:15–16 says,

Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.

This Scripture says that God is closer to us than a mother is to her child. Mother and child may eventually forget each other, but God says that He will never forget you, because the covenant He has made with you is inscribed on the palms of His hands. God the Father has your name inscribed on His hands! That’s how much He loves you, personally! Yes, He loves the whole world, but He also loves you, individually.

God will never forget the covenant He has made with you. How could He? Your name is written on the palms of His hands! And, in these last days, God is opening our eyes so that we can become the children of miracles.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dawn of the Golden Promise by BJ Hoff

Tour Date: Tuesday, August 30

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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and the book:

Dawn of the Golden Promise

Harvest House Publishers; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


BJ Hoff’s bestselling historical novels continue to cross the boundaries of religion, language, and culture to capture a worldwide reading audience. Her books include Song of Erin and American Anthem and such popular series as The Riverhaven Years, The Mountain Song Legacy, and The Emerald Ballad. Hoff’s stories, although set in the past, are always relevant to the present. Whether her characters move about in small country towns or metropolitan areas, reside in Amish settlements or in coal company houses, she creates communities where people can form relationships, raise families, pursue their faith, and experience the mountains and valleys of life. BJ and her husband make their home in Ohio.

Visit the author's website.


In the fifth and concluding volume of her bestselling The Emerald Ballad Series, BJ Hoff brings the exciting Irish-American historical drama to a climax with all the passion and power readers have come to expect from her.

The saga finds Morgan Fitzgerald adapting to life in a wheelchair as a result of an assailant’s bullet to his spine. Meanwhile, his wife, Finola, must face the dark memories and guarded secrets of her past. In New York City, policeman Michael Burke is caught in a conflict between his faith and his determination to bring a dangerous enemy to justice.

This unforgettable series began with the promise of an epic love story and an inspiring journey of faith. The finale delivers on that promise.

About This Series: BJ Hoff’s Emerald Ballad series was one of the most memorable series published in the 1990s. With combined sales of 300,000 copies, these beloved books found a place in the hearts of BJ’s many fans. Now redesigned and freshly covered the saga is available again to a new generation of readers—and BJ’s many new fans due to her highly successful Amish series, The Riverhaven Years—The Emerald Ballad series will once again find an enthusiastic audience.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736927964
ISBN-13: 978-0736927963


Dark Terror

For hope will expire
As the terror draws nigher,
And, with it, the Shame…

James Clarence Mangan (1803–1849)

Near the coast of Portugal
Late June 1850

A little before midnight, Rook Mooney left his card game and went on deck. The starless night sky churned with low-hanging clouds, and although the wind was only beginning to blow up, Mooney knew the storm would be on them within the hour.

He hated sea storms at night, especially the ones that came up all of a sudden. The Atlantic was bad-tempered and unpredictable; she could turn vicious as a wounded witch without warning. Even the most seasoned sailor never took her for granted, and many a callow youth had been turned away from the sea forever by a particularly savage gale.

Had it not been for the brewing storm, Mooney would have been glad for the wind. Lisbon had been sultry, too warm for his liking. He was ready for Ireland’s mild skies.

Hunched over the rail, he stared into the darkness. Although they were another night closer to Ireland, his mood was nearly as black as the sky. He had thought to see Dublin long before now, but instead he had spent three months in a filthy Tangier cell for breaking an innkeeper’s skull.

The darkness deep within him rose up and began to spread. It was her fault. The Innocent. His hands tightened on the rail, his mouth twisting at the memory of her. All these months—more than a year now—and he still couldn’t get her out of his mind. She was like a fire in his brain, boiling in him, tormenting him, driving him half mad.

Nothing had gone right for him since that night at Gemma’s Place. He spent his days with a drumming headache, his nights in a fog of whiskey and fever. His temper was a powder keg, ignited by the smallest spark. Even women were no good for him now. He could scarcely bear the sight of the used, worn-out strumpets who haunted the foreign ports. They all seemed dirty after her. Her, with her ivory skin and golden hair and fine clean scent.

Like some shadowy, infernal sea siren, she seemed to call to him. He was never free of her, could find no peace from her.

His grip on the rail increased. Soon, in only a few days now, they would reach Dublin. He would go back to Gemma’s Place. This time he wouldn’t go so easy on her. This time when he was finished with her, he would put an end to her witchery. He’d snuff out her life…and be free.

All at once rain drenched him. Waves churned up like rolling dunes, pitching the ship as if it were a flimsy child’s toy. Angry and relentless, the gale whipped the deck. Salt from the sea mixed with the rain, burning Mooney’s eyes and stinging his skin as the downpour slashed his face.

He swore into the raging night, anchoring himself to the rail. He felt no terror of the storm, only a feral kind of elation, as if the wildness of the wind had stirred a dark, waiting beast somewhere in the depths of his being.


The small cottage in the field seemed to sway in the wind. Frank Cassidy resisted the urge to duck his head against the thunder that shook the walls and the fierce lightning that streaked outside the window.

After months of following a maze of wrong turns, Cassidy could scarcely believe that he now sat across from the one person who might finally bring his search to an end. It had been a long, frustrating quest, and up until now a futile one. But tonight, in this small, barren cottage outside the old city where Black Cromwell had unleashed his obscene rage, his hopes were rising by the moment.

Friendship had motivated him to undertake the search for Finola Fitzgerald’s past, but nothing more than the unwillingness to disappoint Morgan had kept him going. He owed his old friend a great deal—indeed, he would have done most anything the Fitzgerald had asked of him. But in recent months he had wondered more than once if this entire venture might not end in total defeat. Every road he had taken led only to failure. Every clue he had followed proved worthless.

Until now.

The possibility of finding his answers in Drogheda had first occurred to Cassidy months ago. A Dublin street musician’s vague remark about an unsolved murder in the ancient city—a tragic mystery involving a young girl—had fired his interest and sent him on his way that same week.

According to the musician, a woman named Sally Kelly and her son Peter were likely to have information about the incident. Cassidy had wasted several days in Drogheda trying to locate the pair, only to discover that they had gone north some years past.

He started on to Cavan, eventually traveling as far west as Roscommon, but found no trace, not even a hint, of the Kellys. He started back to Drogheda, discouraged and uncertain about what to do next. To his astonishment, a casual conversation with a tinker on the road revealed that a youth named Peter Kelly had taken up a small tenant farm just outside the old city only weeks before.

Now, sitting across from the lad himself, Cassidy could barely contain his excitement. Even the brief, fragmented story he had managed to glean so far told him that this time he would not leave Drogheda empty-handed.

“If only you could have talked with me mum before she passed on,” Peter Kelly was saying. “She more than likely could have told you all you want to know. There’s so much I can’t remember, don’t you see.”

Kelly was a strapping young man, with shirt sleeves rolled over muscled arms. His face was sunburned and freckled, his rusty hair crisp with tight curls.

“Still, I’d be grateful to hear what you do remember,” Cassidy told him. “Anything at all.”

Dipping one hand into the crock on the table, Kelly retrieved a small potato, still in its jacket, and began to peel it with his thumbnail. Motioning toward the crock, he indicated that Cassidy should help himself.

For a short time they sat in silence, perched on stools at the deal table eating their potatoes. The cottage was old, with but one room and a rough-hewn fireplace. Boxes pegged to the wall held crockery and plates. A straw mattress was draped with a frayed brown blanket. There were no other furnishings.

Peter Kelly had a friendly, honest face and intelligent eyes. “I don’t mind telling you what I recall,” he said, “but I fear it isn’t much. ’ Twas a good seven years ago, or more. I couldn’t have been more than ten or eleven at the time, if that.”

“And your mother was employed as cook?” prompted Cassidy.

The youth nodded. “Aye, she had been in service for Mr. Moran since I was but a wee wane. It was just the two of us. Me da had already passed on long before then.”

“Tell me about Moran,” Cassidy prompted. “Was he a wealthy man?”

Kelly took another bite of potato and shrugged. “Not wealthy and not poor,” he said. “He had an apothecary, but he also acted as a physician of sorts. His father before him left the business and the property. The land was fine, but not exceedingly large. There were some small crops and a few trees—and a lake.”

“And Moran himself? What sort of a man was he?”

Again the lad shrugged. “I recall he was an elderly gentleman. All alone, except for the daughter. His wife died in childbirth, I believe. As best I remember, he treated Mum and me fine.” He paused. “Mum said Mr. Moran doted on the daughter.”

“You mentioned the day of the shooting,” Cassidy urged. “I’d be grateful if you’d tell me about it.”

Peter Kelly licked his fingers before reaching for another potato. “I recall it was a warm day. Spring or summer it must have been, for the trees were in leaf and the sun was bright. I was in the woods when I heard all the commotion. I wasn’t supposed to go in the woods at all,” he explained, glancing up, “for Mum was always fearful of the place. But I played there every chance I got, all the same.”

Rubbing his big hands on his trouser legs, he went on. “But didn’t I go flying out of there fast enough when I heard the screaming? Took off as if the devil himself was after me, I did.”

Cassidy leaned forward, his muscles tensed. “What screaming would that have been?”

“Why, it sounded for all the world like a mountain cat in a trap! ’ Twas too far away for me to see, but I could tell the ruckus was coming from near the lake, at the far end of the property. I took off running for the house.”

He glanced at Cassidy, his expression slightly shamefaced. “I was but a lad,” he muttered. “All I could think of was to get away from the terrible screaming without me mum finding out I’d been playing in the woods again. She was a stern woman.”

“So you saw nothing at all?”

The boy shook his head, and Cassidy felt a shroud of familiar disappointment settle over him. Still, he wasn’t about to give up. “And what happened then, lad?”

“Mum hauled me into the kitchen, then went for Mr. Moran. He told us to stay put while he went to investigate.” He paused. “I saw a pistol in his hand, and I remember me mum was shaking something fierce. We heard the shots not long after Mr. Moran left the house with the gun.”

Cassidy’s interest piqued. He leaned forward. “Shots, did you say?”

Kelly nodded. “Mr. Moran was shot and killed that day.” After a moment he added, “Everyone said it was the teacher who murdered him.”

Curbing his impatience, Cassidy knotted his hands. “What teacher, Peter?”

Young Kelly scratched his head. “Why, I can’t recall his name—it’s been so long—but I do remember he was a Frenchman. Mr. Moran was determined his daughter would be educated, you see, and not in no hedge school, either. He hired the Frenchman as a tutor, and to coach her in the voice lessons. She was musical, you know.”

Cassidy’s mind raced. “This teacher—he lived with the family, did he?”

“He did. It seems to me he had a room upstairs in the house.”

“But what reason would he have had to shoot James Moran?”

Peter Kelly met Cassidy’s eyes across the table. “The story went that Mr. Moran must have been trying to save his daughter from the man’s advances, but the Frenchman got the best of him. Mr. Moran was elderly, mind, and would have been no match for the teacher.”

As Cassidy struggled to piece together what Kelly had told him, the youth went on. “I’m afraid I don’t know much else, sir. Only that Mr. Moran died from the shooting, and the daughter disappeared.”

Cassidy looked at him. “Disappeared?”

“She was never seen after that day,” said Kelly, crossing his arms over his chest. “Mum went looking for her after she found Mr. Moran dead, but there wasn’t a trace of her, not a trace. Nothing but her tin whistle, which they found lying near the lake. No, they never found her nor the Frenchman.” He drew in a long breath, adding, “Mum always said she didn’t believe they tried any too hard, either.”

Cassidy frowned. “Why would she think that?”

Peter Kelly twisted his mouth. “The police didn’t care all that much, don’t you see. The Morans weren’t important enough for them to bother with, Mum said. They didn’t know where to look, so they simply pretended to search.”

Cassidy drummed his finger on the table. “Could the girl simply have run off with the Frenchman, do you think?”

The other shook his head forcefully. “No, sir, I’m certain it was nothing of the sort. Mum was convinced the Frenchman had done something terrible to the lass, and that was why Mr. Moran went after him. But Mr. Moran, he was that frail; a younger man would outmatch him easy enough, she said. Mum was convinced until the day she died that the Frenchman murdered Mr. Moran and then ran off.”

Cassidy rubbed his chin. “But that doesn’t account for the girl,” he said, thinking aloud. “What of her?”

“It pained me mum to think so, but she always believed the Frenchman took the lass with him.”

“Abducted her, d’you mean?”

Peter nodded. “Aye, and perhaps murdered her as well.” He seemed to reminisce for a moment. “Mum never liked that Frenchman, you see. Not a bit. He gave himself airs, she said, and had a devious eye.”

Cassidy’s every instinct proclaimed that at last he had found what he was searching for, but he had been thwarted too many times not to be cautious. Getting to his feet, he untied the pouch at his waist and withdrew the small portrait Morgan had sent him some months past.

He unfolded it, then handed it to Peter Kelly. “Would this be the girl?” he asked, his pulse pounding like the thunder outside. “Would the Moran lass resemble this portrait today, do you think?”

As Kelly studied the portrait, his eyes widened. “Why, ’tis her,” he said, nodding slowly. “Sure, ’tis Miss Finola herself.”

Cassidy stared at him. “Finola?” he said, his voice cracking. “That was her name—Finola?    ”

“It was indeed,” the lad said. “And didn’t it suit her well, at that? Tall and lovely, she was, and several years older than myself. Wee lad that I was, I thought her an enchanted creature. A princess…with golden hair.”

A wave of exhilaration swept over Cassidy. He had all he could do not to shout. According to Morgan, the one thing Finola Fitzgerald had seemed to remember about her past was her given name.

“You’re quite sure, lad?” he said, his voice none too steady. “It’s been many a year since you last saw the lass, after all.”

Kelly nodded, still studying the portrait. “ ’ Tis her. Sure, and she’s a woman grown, but a face is not easily forgotten, no matter the years.”

“Now that is the truth,” agreed Cassidy, smiling at the boy.

“Is she found then, sir, after all this time?” Kelly asked, returning the portrait to Cassidy.

Still smiling, Cassidy stared at the portrait. “Aye, lad,” he said after a moment, his voice hoarse with excitement. “She is found. She is safe, and a married woman now.”

“Ah…thanks be to God!” said Peter Kelly.

“Indeed,” Cassidy echoed. “Thanks be to God.”

Nelson Hall, Dublin

For the second time in a week, Finola’s screams pierced the late night silence of the bedroom. Instantly awake, Morgan reached for her, then stopped. He had learned not to touch her until she was fully awake and had recognized him.

“Finola?” Leaning over her, he repeated her name softly. “Finola, ’tis Morgan. You’re dreaming, macushla. You are safe. Safe with me.”

Her body was rigid, her arms crossed in front of her face as if to ward off an attack. She thrashed, moaning and sobbing, her eyes still closed.

Outside, thunder rumbled in the distance and the lightning flared halfheartedly, then strengthened. As if sensing the approaching storm, Finola gave a startled cry.

Morgan continued to soothe her with his voice, speaking softly in the Irish. It was all he could do not to gather her in his arms. But when the nightmare had first begun, months ago, he had made the mistake of trying to rouse her from it. She had gone after him like a wild thing, pummeling him with her fists, scraping his face with her nails as she fought him off.

Whatever went on in that dark, secret place of the dream must be an encounter of such dread, such horror, as to temporarily seize her sanity. The Finola trapped in that nightmare world was not in the least like the gentle, soft-voiced Finola he knew as his wife. In the throes of the dream she was a woman bound, terrorized by something too hideous to be endured.

No matter how he ached to rescue her, he could do nothing…nothing but wait.
In the netherworld of the dream, Finola stood in a dark and windswept cavern.

Seized by terror, she cupped her hands over her ears to shut out the howling of the wind.

The wind. She knew it was coming for her, could hear the angry, thunderous roar, feel the trembling of the ground beneath her feet as the storm raced toward her.

Faster now…a fury of a wind, gathering speed as it came, raging and swooping down upon her like a terrible bird of prey, gathering momentum as it hurled toward her…closing in, seizing her.

Black and fierce, it seemed alive as it dragged her closer…closer into its eye, as if trying to swallow her whole. As she struggled to break free, she heard in the farthest recesses of the darkness a strange, indefinable sound, a sound of sorrow, as if all the trees in the universe were sighing their grief.

She tried to run but was held captive by the force of the wind. It pounded her, squeezing the breath from her, dragging her into a darkness so dense it filled her eyes, her mouth, her lungs…oh, dear Jesus, it was crushing her…crushing her to nothing—

Finola sat straight up in bed, as if propelled by some raw force of terror. She gasped, as always, fighting for her breath.

Soaked in perspiration, Finola stared at Morgan, her gaze filled with horror.

Still he did not touch her. “You are safe, Finola aroon. ’      Twas only a bad dream. You are here with me.”

She put a hand to her throat and opened her mouth as if to speak, but made no sound. Finally…finally, she made a small whimper, like that of a frightened animal sprung free from a trap.

At last Morgan saw a glint of recognition. Finola moaned, then sagged into his waiting arms.

Stroking her hair, Morgan held her, crooning to her as he would a frightened child. “There’s nothing to harm you, my treasure. Nothing at all.”

“Hold me…hold me…”

Tightening his arms about her still more, he began to rock her gently back and forth. “Shhh, now, macushla…everything is well. You are safe.”

He felt her shudder against him, and he went on, lulling her with his voice, stroking her hair until at last he felt her grow still. “Was it the same as before?” he asked.

Her head nodded against his chest.

He knew it might be hours before she would be able to sleep again. So great was the dream’s terror that she dreaded closing her eyes afterward. Sometimes she lay awake until dawn.

Her description of the nightmare never failed to chill Morgan. It had begun not long after their first physical union. Although he could scarcely bring himself to face the possibility, he could not help but wonder if their intimacy, though postponed, might not somehow be responsible.

At the outer fringes of his mind lurked a growing dread that by marrying her and taking her into his bed, he had somehow invoked the nightmare. He prayed it was not so, but if it continued, he would eventually have to admit his fear to Finola. They would have to speak of it.

But not yet. Not tonight. Tonight he would simply hold her until she no longer trembled, until she no longer clung to him as if he alone could banish the horror.
Unwilling to forsake the comforting warmth of Morgan’s embrace, Finola lay, unmoving. Gradually she felt her own pulse slow to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. “I’m sorry I woke you,” she whispered.

He silenced her with a finger on her lips. “There is nothing to be sorry for. Hush, now, and let me hold you.”

Something was coming. Something dark. Something cold and dark and sinister…

Thunder boomed like distant cannon, and Finola shivered. Wrapped safely in Morgan’s arms, she struggled to resist the dark weight of foreboding that threatened to smother her.

It was always like this after the nightmare, as if the black wind in the dream still hovered oppressively near, waiting to overtake her after she was fully awake. Sometimes hours passed before she could completely banish the nightmare’s terror.

Were it not for the safe wall of Morgan’s presence to soothe and shield her, she thought she might go mad in the aftermath of the horror. But always he was there, his sturdy arms and quiet voice her stronghold of protection. Her haven.

“Better now, macushla   ?” he murmured against her hair.

Finola nodded, and he gently eased her back against the pillows, settling her snugly beside him, her head on his shoulder.

“Try to sleep,” he said, brushing a kiss over the top of her head. “Nothing will hurt you this night. Nothing will ever hurt you again, I promise you.”

Finola closed her eyes and forced herself to lie still. She knew Morgan would not allow himself to sleep until she did, so after a few moments she pretended to drift off; in a short while, she heard his breathing grow even and shallow.

After he fell asleep, she lay staring at the window, trying not to jump when lightning streaked and sliced the night. She hugged her arms to herself as the thunder groaned. In the shelter of Morgan’s embrace, it was almost possible to believe that he was right, that nothing would hurt her ever again. She knew that with the first light of the morning, the nightmare would seem far distant, almost as if it had never happened.

But just as surely, she knew night would come again, and with the night would come the dream, with its dark wind and evil hidden somewhere deep within.

After a long time, Finola began to doze. But just as she sank toward the edge of unconsciousness, the wind shrieked. Like the sudden convulsion of a wren’s wings, panic shook her and she jolted awake.

Feeling irrationally exposed and vulnerable, she listened to the storm play out its fury. Thunder hammered with such force that the great house seemed to shudder and groan, while the wind went howling as if demanding entrance.

Again she closed her eyes, this time to pray.